Electronic Weapons: January 18, 2005


After four years of development, the U.S. Air Force is introducing PRESS (Personnel Recovery Extraction Survivability aided by Smart Sensors). With this new system, pilots are equipped with a handheld radio containing PRESS hardware and software. If forced to bail out, PRESS will make rescue much easier. Once the pilots are on the ground, they push a button, and a coded message is sent to a satellite, which automatically transfers the information into the PRESS system. Thats right, PRESS is more than a spiffier handheld rescue radio, its a network of computers and software that makes sure the location of the downed pilot, and any data sent by the pilot, is automatically shared by all the people involved in the rescue. This includes the air force rescue teams on their helicopters or fixed wing aircraft. Combat aircraft providing cover, or other reconnaissance aircraft are also kept up-to-date. In fact, the downed pilot could send out a rescue request via a cell phone. Once the information is in the PRESS system, the rescue operation goes a lot more quickly. The air force took this approach after analyzing earlier rescue situations, and noticing that the weak link was not the bells and whistles on the pilots rescue radio, but the ability of all the rescue people to communicate with each other quickly and accurately.




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